The Trend in Trends: Experts try to predict the future without knowing the past. – WSJ.com

“Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes,” by Mark J. Penn, was published a couple of weeks ago. Its title reminds one of the 1982 best seller “Megatrends,” by John Naisbitt. Mr. Naisbitt also has a new book out, “Mind Set!” on how to interpret trends. The Internet search giant Google has recently decided to offer consumers the Google Trends Labs, which allows you to see how frequently topics you enter have been searched for by other Google users. A retail-industry think tank at the University of California, Riverside, has announced a new trend in trend-prediction: prediction markets, which will, it says, produce more prescient predictions about online sales trends.

Is there a trend here?

Mr. Penn, a pollster for Hillary Clinton, thinks so. He writes: “You can’t understand the world anymore only in terms of ‘megatrends,’ or universal experiences. In today’s splintered society, if you want to operate successfully, you have to understand the intense identity groups that are growing and moving, fast and furious in crisscrossing directions. That is microtrends.”